Thursday 19 July, 2018

Denbigh 2017 perhaps the best ever - JAS president

Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) president Norman Grant (right) and Agriculture Minister Karl Samuda examine a bird at the recent Denbigh show.

Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) president Norman Grant (right) and Agriculture Minister Karl Samuda examine a bird at the recent Denbigh show.

When you have Prime Minister Andrew Holness with virtually his entire family, including his wife and sons, along with Government ministers, Karl Samuda, Mike Henry, Audley Shaw and Rudyard Spencer, plus Speaker of the House of Representatives, Pearnel Charles and May Pen Mayor, Winston Maragh in one venue, it is clear that things are happening or have happened.

That was the backdrop in which Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) President, Norman Grant, on Monday put the annual Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show in perspective.

In declaring the 65th staging of the show another resounding success, Grant said it was perhaps “the biggest success of our 65-year history”.

And, as he outlined with clear emotions, there was much reason to be very reflective of this year’s experience.

He expressed particular gratitude for the inputs of a number of critical stakeholders for the success this time around, considering the dire state of the 52-acre property only two months ago, when the Clarendon Health Authority threatened to bring the plans for the show to a screeching halt.

The health department had expressed serious concern about a number of logistical factors relative to the grounds and the sanitation arrangements there, which threatened to stump the JAS.

But Grant said the Agriculture Ministry in particular, led by Minister Karl Samuda and Peranent Secretary, Donovan Stanberry, got into gear and visited the ground for a first-hand look at the problems, leading to the solutions which were eventually realised.

A $12 million sponsorship cheque from the ministry, along with very wide corporate sponsorship and $1 million from the tourism sector, were, evidently, like good medicine to the afflicted.

“After the challenges that were facing us only two months ago, it is pretty remarkable that we have had perhaps the best show of the 65 years,” declared Grant.

He thanked the Agriculture Ministry and the Clarendon Health Department “for their critical assistance in the process”, plus May Pen Mayor, Winston Maragh, and the JAS’ organisational and support teams for having “dug deep to make this year’s show not only a reality, but also a resounding success”.

He said with agriculture accounting for six per cent of the local labour force, and seven and a half per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), the sector has stood tall in support of the national economy, and is poised to contribute even more meaningfully going forward.

The JAS president cited plans for the year-round use of the Denbigh property now that it is out of the clutches of FINSAC, including the opening of a farmers’ market and the launch of a farmers’ conference centre on the property, as indicators of big things to come.

Among the major winners at the show was Manchester as the Champion Parish Pavilion, Westmoreland as the overall Champion Parish, and H&L Agro for the Best Commercial Display.